What is the difference between values and ethics?please give examples

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The basic difference here is that values are more general statements while ethics relates to putting those values into effect in concrete situations.

You can say that values are the things that are important to a  person or to an organization.  Values tell a person what general goals are right and what general goals are wrong.  In this code of ethics we see values such as "social justice" and "dignity and worth of the person."  These are broad statements that tell us what is important to this organization and its members.

Ethics are more concrete.  They come about when we are faced with a specific situation in which we must decide what to do.  Looking at the value of "dignity and worth of the person," we see that one ethical principle is that social workers should try to help their clients "to address their own needs."  We can imagine a situation, then, in which a client asks a social worker to help them with a specific problem.  The social worker believes that the client can help themselves in that situation rather than relying on the social worker.  The ethical thing to do, then, would be to help the client figure out how to deal with the problem on their own rather than relying on the social worker to do it for them.


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